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Cardiac allograft vasculopathy (CAV) remains a leading cause of mortality after heart transplantation (HT). Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) may retard the development of CAV but have not been well studied after HT.This study tested the safety and efficacy of the ACEI ramipril on the development of CAV early after HT.In this prospective, multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 96 HT recipients were randomized to undergo ramipril or placebo therapy. They underwent coronary angiography, endothelial function testing; measurements of fractional flow reserve (FFR) and coronary flow reserve (CFR) and the index of microcirculatory resistance (IMR); and intravascular ultrasonography (IVUS) of the left anterior descending coronary artery, within 8 weeks of HT. At 1 year, the invasive assessment was repeated. Circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) were quantified at baseline and 1 year.Plaque volumes at 1 year were similar between the ramipril and placebo groups (162.1 ± 70.5 mm(3) vs. 177.3 ± 94.3 mm(3), respectively; p = 0.73). Patients receiving ramipril had improvement in microvascular function as shown by a significant decrease in IMR (21.4 ± 14.7 to 14.4 ± 6.3; p = 0.001) and increase in CFR (3.8 ± 1.7 to 4.8 ± 1.5; p = 0.017), from baseline to 1 year. This did not occur with IMR (17.4 ± 8.4 to 21.5 ± 20.0; p = 0.72) or CFR (4.1 ± 1.8 to 4.1 ± 2.2; p = 0.60) in the placebo-treated patients. EPCs decreased significantly at 1 year in the placebo group but not in the ramipril group.Ramipril does not slow development of epicardial plaque volume but does stabilize levels of endothelial progenitor cells and improve microvascular function, which have been associated with improved long-term survival after HT. (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme [ACE] Inhibition and Cardiac Allograft Vasculopathy; NCT01078363).
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